The Memory of Light
Booklist Reviews 2015 November #1
*Starred Review* When high-school sophomore Vicky Cruz wakes up in the hospital psychiatric ward after a failed suicide attempt, she knows it's only a matter of time before she tries again. She agrees to stay for two weeks, not because she thinks it will change anything, but because she can't bear pretending anymore. Through Vicky's interactions with others in group therapy—chatty, energetic Mona; bold, angry E.M.; and preternaturally wise Gabriel—she finds acceptance and understanding, while her sessions with kindly Dr. Desai help reframe her life from the perspective of someone with an illness that needs treatment, not someone who "isn't trying hard enough." While the final third of the novel is crowded with less-credible action sequences, including a near drowning and a violent confrontation with an abuser, overall Vicky's story has undeniable emotional strength and an encouraging, compassionate message. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World, 2009) writes his characters with authenticity and respect, from their inner lives to their economic and cultural backgrounds (Vicky is Mexican American). As Vicky gradually recovers and begins to imagine her future, other characters work out their damaging assumptions as well. Though occasionally message heavy, this important story of a teenager learning to live with clinical depression is informative and highly rewarding. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Fall
Sixteen-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a mental ward after a suicide attempt. She reluctantly agrees to stay for treatment and finds herself connecting with fellow patients as, together, they are guided by Dr. Desai to explore their issues. Stork imbues his characters with honest pain and humor, lending truth to their struggles with mental illness, class tensions, domestic violence, grief, and survival.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2016 #2
he last thing she wanted was to wake up at all. Feeling like a failure at life—and now even at death—Vicky reluctantly agrees to stay for treatment and is surprised to find herself connecting with fellow patients Mona, E. M., and Gabriel, three veteran "mentals" who, together with Vicky, are guided by Dr. Desai to explore the issues that plague each of them—bipolar disorder, anger management, schizophrenia, and clinical depression. Vicky begins to examine the thoughts that led to her suicide attempt and slowly to heal; outside the hospital, though, the reality of no friends, a family grown distant in the wake of her mother's death, and the imminent departure of her beloved nana looms large. Grounded in the protagonist's journey, the first-person narration gives shape to the intricacies of Vicky's thoughts, her illness, and what she learns about both. Partially inspired by his own experiences, Stork (Marcelo in the Real World, rev. 3/09) imbues his characters with honest pain and humor, lending truth to their struggles with such issues as mental illness, class tensions, domestic violence, grief, and survival. anastasia m. collins
PW Reviews 2015 October #2
Vicky Cruz, 16, "put on strong every morning," trying to please her demanding father, a emotionally stunted man who married his assistant shortly after the death of his wife, six years earlier. But when Vicky's father summarily fires her beloved, arthritic nanny, paying for her to return to Mexico, Vicky surrenders to the "soul pain" she has felt for years and swallows a bottle of her stepmother's sleeping pills. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World) writes sensitively about Vicky's journey from near death to shaky recovery, discussing his own experience with depression in an afterword. Awakening in a public hospital's psych ward, Vicky attends group therapy with patients who have a catalogue of disorders, and learns from them to value her strengths. Various studies have estimated that perhaps as many as one in five teens has a diagnosable mental health problem; it's a subject that needs the discussion Stork's potent novel can readily provide. Vicky isn't healed, but she finds a reason to keep living, and that constitutes progress worth celebrating. Ages 12–up. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC